If an NPC is telling the truth, what's the Insight DC to know they're telling the truth?

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Placing “trap here” signs is another thing I don’t think many, if any of us, do. There is a world of difference between telegraphing traps and outright telling the players there’s a trap here. I understand it’s hard to picture when you haven’t seen these techniques in actual play. There are actual plays where the DMs use this technique you could watch/read/listen to if you’re curious. I’m pretty sure Iserith has done a few. But with or without an actual play examples, it helps of you start from the assumption that a technique you’re unfamiliar with does work, and endeavor tio understand how, instead of starting from the assumption that a technique is nonsense and demanding that its proponents prove to you that it doesn’t ruin the game.
Different people play different ways. Did I ever say your style of play was "ridiculous"? I don't know how to say this that it doesn't sound like an apology that's not really an apology, but all I've done for quite some time now is state how I run my game. So ... sorry if my minor fits of sarcasm bother you but I don't see much of a difference between telegraphing where traps are to the point that nobody is surprised by them is any different than putting a "trap here" sign. I don't see how players could know all possible outcomes of failure unless you tell them things the PCs wouldn't know.

If it's not obvious by now, I take quite a different approach to my D&D games. As stated up-thread I view D&D as a simplified simulator for letting people imagine what it would be like to be the protagonist of a fantasy story. So simulator first, game second.

As far as iserith, he blocked me a long time ago because of this topic. I think it bothered him that I didn't just agree with him ... but he wouldn't ever say exactly what it was that bothered him other then "don't do that". When I asked what "that" was he blocked me.

P.S. It doesn't really help to say that "if you just played it like we did you'd agree with us". Just because I disagree with you, doesn't mean I don't understand you.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Different people play different ways. Did I ever say your style of play was "ridiculous"?
Yeah, I realized that phrasing was a bit unfair, and I changed it to be a bit less hyperbolic in an edit, sorry for that original wording.

I don't know how to say this that it doesn't sound like an apology that's not really an apology, but all I've done for quite some time now is state how I run my game.
I mean, saying it seems like people place “trap here” signs is definitely not just stating how you run your game.

So ... sorry if my minor fits of sarcasm bother you but I don't see much of a difference between telegraphing where traps are to the point that nobody is surprised by them is any different than putting a "trap here" sign. I don't see how players could know all possible outcomes of failure unless you tell them things the PCs wouldn't know.
Right, so start from the assumption that the technique does work. That would mean sufficient telegraphing of traps =/= nobody is surprised by them and telling players possible consequences for failure before they roll =/= the plauers kmow all possible outcomes for failure. Both of those statements are accurate, to my games at least. You would have less trouble understanding this style if you started from the baseline assumption that it does work.

If it's not obvious by now, I take quite a different approach to my D&D games. As stated up-thread I view D&D as a simplified simulator for letting people imagine what it would be like to be the protagonist of a fantasy story. So simulator first, game second.
Which is a perfectly valid and fun way to play the game, I’ve got no beef with that, even if I prefer to emphasize the game part a bit more in my own games.

P.S. It doesn't really help to say that "if you just played it like we did you'd agree with us". Just because I disagree with you, doesn't mean I don't understand you.
I have never said that, and I don’t believe it. In fact, given what I’ve read from you, I’m pretty sure if you tried my waybof running things, you wouldn’t find it to your liking. I think you would probably dislike it less than you think you would, but I still don’t think you’d really like it. I’m not saying I don’t think you understand it because you don’t think you’d like it, I’m saying I don’t think you understand it because the techniques you keep attributing to an unspecified “some people in this thread” do not accurately reflect the techniques that most of us in this thread actually use.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Yes, I (generally) tell players the consequences of a failed roll. Like Satyrn, and as I've said several times, I try to leave it in general terms. For example, I'll tell them they will land in the pit. I won't tell them it's an illusory pit, or the liquid is (or isn't) acid, etc.

But somehow that nuance keeps getting overlooked, and the approach repeatedly gets caricatured* as telling the players everything. Of 'coddling' them. Of putting up 'trap here' signs. Etc.

*As does pretty much everything in threads like these.

Here's a question: what's coddling players more, telegraphing the nature of the consequence of a failure, or not even having failures trigger meaningful consequences? Talk about irony!
 

Hussar

Legend
Who's having failures not trigger meaningful consequences? The chandelier did fall, the character did believe the lie. Is anyone arguing for a lack of meaningful consequences for failure?

Charlaquin said:
That would mean sufficient telegraphing of traps =/= nobody is surprised by them and telling players possible consequences for failure before they roll =/= the plauers kmow all possible outcomes for failure. Both of those statements are accurate, to my games at least
The problem, I think, that folks are having here is how you can both telegraph a trap AND surprise a player with that trap. Or, and this is my bigger issue, if you tell a possible consequence of failure to the player and then go with a totally different consequence, don't your players get annoyed?

I mean, if I'm swinging on that chandelier (why is this always an example? In 30+ years of gaming I've NEVER seen a player try this) and you tell me that I'll miss the jump if I fail my check and then have the chandelier break, don't your players react pretty negatively?

I've been repeatedly told that allowing my players to roll first will result in the players being angry for things like "Well, I didn't SAY I was doing that". I avoid that by being pretty clear up front that actions are resolved AFTER the roll, which means that the DM gets a smidgeon of control over the character from time to time. Making that roll indicates that you are okay with that.

But, if you tell me X is going to happen if I fail and then Y happens, how is that not a bait and switch? "I wouldn't have done that if I thought that THAT could happen."
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Yes, I (generally) tell players the consequences of a failed roll. Like Satyrn, and as I've said several times, I try to leave it in general terms. For example, I'll tell them they will land in the pit. I won't tell them it's an illusory pit, or the liquid is (or isn't) acid, etc.

But somehow that nuance keeps getting overlooked, and the approach repeatedly gets caricatured* as telling the players everything. Of 'coddling' them. Of putting up 'trap here' signs. Etc.

*As does pretty much everything in threads like these.

Here's a question: what's coddling players more, telegraphing the nature of the consequence of a failure, or not even having failures trigger meaningful consequences? Talk about irony!
"Here's a question: what's coddling players more, telegraphing the nature of the consequence of a failure, or not even having failures trigger meaningful consequences? Talk about irony!"

If a check is being made, it's being made to reflect an action - an attempt to do something. Even if its only "you didn't get it" that is a consequence. How meaningful the consequence is or will be is a matter of context, regardless of the degree to which it is played thru in game orvthru meta-game negotiations.

"You take 3d6 poison damage from needle trap" may be very meaningful for a 1st level group still in a dungeon or other risky situation. But for a 5th level party relaxing in their inn before a night's rest, it's likely far from meaningful - trivial. But since the party has not ben told in advance that is the case, a check is made anyway.

It's when the context is removed that you get into whacky misperceptions.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
There have been long, long discussions about how players shouldn't be surprised by traps. That they should be broadcast. That if someone can describe what their doing there's no need to roll a D20. That if people don't know what the possible outcome of a failure is how can they possibly make a decision.

How did I get that impression? Well it could be from postings like...
I would think it's unfair to the players to let them think that a failure means falling into the pit, but then when they fail you spring some other surprise consequence on them.
and
Well, I’ll give you guys credit for consistency: if the players don’t know what the risk:reward profile looks like, nobody can say it’s ‘challenging the players not the characters.’ Hard to be challenged when you have no idea what’s going on.
or
Telling the players the outcome can make the experience more rewarding, because failure is always the result of a calculated risk the player knowingly accepted.
And so on. If there was clarification of that, then I missed it or misunderstood. My bad.

But I've said it before and I'll say it again. I get a bit sarcastic now and then. On the other hand I've never insisted that anyone prove anything. I don't think anyone on this thread plays "gotcha" DMing despite the assertions to the contrary. I have asked for clarification now and then. I've said that I don't run my game the same way. I don't see why people are so insistent on players not calling for skill checks. But I've never told anyone that if they just played the game my way they'd see how much better it works. I don't appeal to authority by quoting the rules while sometimes leaving out important clarifying clauses.

If I'm being insulting or rude, or otherwise violating the rules report me. Barring that, I'm entitled to my opinion which may include not thinking a different way of running the game is any better, and in fact based on my understanding it would be less enjoyable for me.
 

pemerton

Legend
In my own case, the logic of the illusory pit would typically be the reverse of what some have presented in this thread: that is, it's not that discovering the pit is merely an illusion would alert the players to the possible presence of illusions in the neighbourhood; rather, because the logic and trajectory of play have made illusions salient, then an illusion may be introduced into the fiction as a particular consequence of a particular failed check.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Who's having failures not trigger meaningful consequences? The chandelier did fall, the character did believe the lie. Is anyone arguing for a lack of meaningful consequences for failure?
Chaosmancer seems very opposed to failure *always* having meaningful consequences, and IIRC, a few people have voiced agreement with that. I very much doubt anyone is opposed to failure *ever* having meaningful consenquences. Certainly no one here has given that impression.

The problem, I think, that folks are having here is how you can both telegraph a trap AND surprise a player with that trap.
By using telegraphs that are subtle enough that a player has to be paying attention to notice it. Think of it like Dark Souls. Part of the notorious difficulty of dark souls is ambushes and traps that get you when you're least expecting it. But these traps and ambushes are always telegraphed. If you are paying careful attention to your environment, you can pick up on the clues and avoid places you know are likely to be trapped. If you're rushing, you're likely to get nailed by them. This is why it is often said that Dark Souls is difficult, but fair. This is something I strive to emulate in my D&D games.

One effective way to do this is to have an observable pattern to the traps within a particular dungeon. Maybe in an old dwarven ruin, there are many statues of ancient dwarf heroes that flank various doorways and passages, some of which (but not all of which) mark traps; anyone who walks in-between the statues triggers spears that shoot up from the floor and skewer them. Early in the dungeon, you put a skeleton between a set of statues, with puncture marks in its armor. Now, it's very unlikely that the players will be surprised by this specific trap, if they have an ounce of genre savvy. That's not the point of this trap. This trap is a "teach." Now the players have enough information to know that in this dungeon, they should be cautious of statues flanking doorways, if they're paying attention. The next time they come to a doorway flanked by statues, they might remember the previous time, and they might investigate to look for holes the spears might come out from, or a pressure plate that might trigger the spears, or a secret passageway around the trap. Or, they might not have picked up on the pattern yet, and they might just get nailed by some spears. Either way, they're definitely going to be cautious the next time they see such statues. So, maybe next time, the statues have been largely destroyed. There's still a bit of the stone pedestal the statues sat on, but no statues. Again, players who have picked up on the pattern might realize that this is part of it if they realize these pedestals are the bases of destroyed statues, but then again they might be surprised by the trap if they miss that detail. And, you'll want some sets of statues that don't trigger such traps. They're just ordinary statues, flanking doors and passageways. If the players are paying attention, they're sure to be cautious, but when they can't find anything and nothing happens when they walk between them, this is going to get them thinking about what marks the difference between the trapped statues and the safe ones. And there should be a difference they can pick up on, if they're specifically looking for it. Maybe the trapped statues all depict dwarves from a particular clan of dwarves, and you need Proficiency in History (or Stonecunning) to recognize it. Then the broken statues are going to be real head scratchers.

Or, and this is my bigger issue, if you tell a possible consequence of failure to the player and then go with a totally different consequence, don't your players get annoyed?

I mean, if I'm swinging on that chandelier (why is this always an example? In 30+ years of gaming I've NEVER seen a player try this) and you tell me that I'll miss the jump if I fail my check and then have the chandelier break, don't your players react pretty negatively?
I imagine they would, which is why I wouldn't do that.

I've been repeatedly told that allowing my players to roll first will result in the players being angry for things like "Well, I didn't SAY I was doing that". I avoid that by being pretty clear up front that actions are resolved AFTER the roll, which means that the DM gets a smidgeon of control over the character from time to time. Making that roll indicates that you are okay with that.
Which is perfectly valid and fun way to do things. No judgment here, if that's what you and your players prefer, by all means, enjoy!

But, if you tell me X is going to happen if I fail and then Y happens, how is that not a bait and switch? "I wouldn't have done that if I thought that THAT could happen."
I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that anyone is doing this. You don't tell the players one thing will happen and then have another thing happen. You tell the players what it is reasonable for them to know will happen. Again with the illusory pit example, "if you fail, you'll fall in" doesn't give away that it's an illusion, doesn't mislead the players into thinking one thing will happen when really another will, and gives the players enough information to make a good decision about how to proceed. You don't have to tell them that they'll take 10d6 damage when they fall, just telling them they'll fall is fine. You don't have to tell them the magic sigil will explode if they mess up deactivating it, just telling them the volatile magical energies will be released unsafely is fine. You don't have to tell the players there's an unaware ogre on the other side of the door that will hear them and have enough time to prepare for them if they fail to break down the door in one go, just telling them that the noise will alert nearby creatures to their presence is fine. The idea that the only options are "tell the players information their characters couldn't know" or "don't tell the players the consequences of a failed roll" is a false dichotomy.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Who's having failures not trigger meaningful consequences?
Some argue that meaningful consequences are not a necessary condition of dice rolls, and/or they argue that unchanged conditions (E.g. "They still don't know if there's a trap") count as consequences.

Coddlers. The lot of 'em.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
And let's talk about traps that aren't telegraphed for moment, and see if we can figure out what exactly the gameplay for this is supposed to look like.

Option 1: Every 5' Square
The players are just supposed to all make Investigation and Perception checks every 5', and hope that somebody in the party rolls high enough. I'm not saying this is how it must be played; just trying to cover all bases here. Can we all agree this one is not a desirable outcome?

Analysis: didn't we stop playing this way in about 1980?

Option 2: Passive Perception
If anybody's passive score is high enough, the trap is discovered, otherwise it's not, with no decision-making by the player. This might be what some refer to as "challenging the character" (or "challenging the build", as it were.)

Analysis: In addressing @iserith's trapped hallway, @Hussar claims that once the Perception check succeeds no further explanation/input by the player is required; the DM can infer that a trap of which the party is aware is also successfully avoided. So it would seem that the players don't actually need to do anything here: if their passive Perception is high enough, nothing else happens. Otherwise the trap is triggered (presumably with some narration by the DM: "It's a poison arrow trap, you take X piercing and Y poison damage.")

Instead of actually doing all this work behind the DM screen during play, it might be more expedient to add up the average damage of all the traps, multiply by the odds of the trap being triggered, divide by the number of people in the party, and just have everybody reduce their hp by that number. You could speed things up even more by not reducing damage and instead having everybody check off the spell slots and HD necessary to negate all that damage.

Option 3: Clues
There's some clue that challenges players...oops, I mean, alerts players...to make a Perception check in this particular spot. Umm....

Analysis: Oh, wait, a clue is like a "telegraph" and we're not supposed to be discussing "trap here" scenarios.

Option 4: Known Locations
This one is sort of a hybrid of 1 and 3: players aren't expected to make checks in every square, just the ones that canonically "May Contain Trap". So the trap isn't telegraphed, per se, but savvy players (damn, there's that "challenge the player" thing rearing its ugly head again) know which locations to check: chests, closed doors, huge gems sitting on top of altars, etc. So it's a combination of "always check" and "but only in certain locations".

Analysis: While somewhat more efficient than "check every square" it also hobbles the DM, who now can't put traps in other places without risking annoying the players and/or teaching them to start searching every 5' square.

So which is it? Those of you who deride telegraphing traps, what does it look like at your table?
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
This doesn’t stop being the case because the success was determined without a dice roll.
When Einstein said "God does not play dice with the Universe" he knew he was wrong when he said it. He just didn't like the truth.

As a teacher, I know that you can teach the same lesson to a very similar class and have very different outcomes. Perform skill + random dice roll is as good a way to represent reality as any.

Random rolls have the added advantage of potentially sending the story spinning off in a direction even the DM did not anticipate.


Now, I can see the justification of not having a random roll if you are taking a purely story telling approach and simply deciding on the outcome based on what makes for the most interesting story. However, sometimes there is more than one interesting outcome.

You could also take a performance based approach to replace dice rolls if you have improv-drama inclined players. However, any stand-up would tell you you can do everything right and still have a joke fall flat.

The only other reason for limiting dice rolls is because you only have one D20 for the whole game. I was in this situation back at school in the 80s, but these days all the players have at least 2 D20s, so they can roll the dice without pausing play.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
When Einstein said "God does not play dice with the Universe" he knew he was wrong when he said it. He just didn't like the truth.

As a teacher, I know that you can teach the same lesson to a very similar class and have very different outcomes. Perform skill + random dice roll is as good a way to represent reality as any.

Random rolls have the added advantage of potentially sending the story spinning off in a direction even the DM did not anticipate.


Now, I can see the justification of not having a random roll if you are taking a purely story telling approach and simply deciding on the outcome based on what makes for the most interesting story. However, sometimes there is more than one interesting outcome.

You could also take a performance based approach to replace dice rolls if you have improv-drama inclined players. However, any stand-up would tell you you can do everything right and still have a joke fall flat.

The only other reason for limiting dice rolls is because you only have one D20 for the whole game. I was in this situation back at school in the 80s, but these days all the players have at least 2 D20s, so they can roll the dice without pausing play.
Or maybe some (most?) of us prefer The Middle Path over Rolling With It (DMG p236).
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
When Einstein said "God does not play dice with the Universe" he knew he was wrong when he said it. He just didn't like the truth.
I know a fair bit about the context, background, and meaning of this quote, and I'll admit I'm struggling to find any relevance to the topic at hand.

(As an aside, he didn't "know he was wrong" when he said it, and the fact that hand-wavy believers in the the Copenhagen Interpretation say he was wrong doesn't make it so. In the decades since there has been a growing acknowledgement that Einstein was right. Read "What is Real" by Adam Becker for a reasonably approachable lay explanation, or keep an eye out for a book by Simon Saunders coming out this year, if you don't want to take the time to go to graduate school.)

Maybe I should pull some pithy quotes by Andrew Dice Clay and hope that they seem relevant because the word "Dice" is in there.

Anyway, nobody is arguing against using dice at all (except, perhaps, as an experiment to broaden our minds about RPGs). It's just that every action in D&D doesn't need to be resolved randomly.

The only other reason for limiting dice rolls...
You've completely overlooked the best reasons.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
When Einstein said "God does not play dice with the Universe" he knew he was wrong when he said it. He just didn't like the truth.
I gotta agree with Elfcrusher here, I don’t see how this is relevant.

As a teacher, I know that you can teach the same lesson to a very similar class and have very different outcomes. Perform skill + random dice roll is as good a way to represent reality as any.
Which is all well and good, but I’m not aiming to represent reality. I’m aiming to create a fun and satisfying roleplaying and gaming experience. This is not to say that your games are not fun or satisfying, merely that I have different priorities. Giving the player the opportunity to succeed or fail based on their decisions rather than random chance takes priority for me over simulating reality.

Random rolls have the added advantage of potentially sending the story spinning off in a direction even the DM did not anticipate.
I’ve found that players, by virtue of being independent agents, can and will take the story in unexpected directions with or without the random element of the dice, and in fact, too many dice rolls can get in the way of that because it ties the outcomes to a probability curve instead of to the plauers’ whims.

Now, I can see the justification of not having a random roll if you are taking a purely story telling approach and simply deciding on the outcome based on what makes for the most interesting story. However, sometimes there is more than one interesting outcome.
Of the options you present here, this is probably the closest to my approach, although I don’t judge the outcomes of actions based on what I think will be more interesting. I judge based on how appropriate the goal is to the approach, to create a fictional world the players can count on to react in a predictable way to their input, the better to allow them to influence the story in a way that will be interesting to them.

You could also take a performance based approach to replace dice rolls if you have improv-drama inclined players. However, any stand-up would tell you you can do everything right and still have a joke fall flat.
One could do that. I might enjoy playing in a game like that. I would not enjoy running a game like that and I don’t think very many of my players would enjoy playing in it.

The only other reason for limiting dice rolls is because you only have one D20 for the whole game. I was in this situation back at school in the 80s, but these days all the players have at least 2 D20s, so they can roll the dice without pausing play.
This is definitely not the only other reason.
 

Chaosmancer

Villager
Dagnabbit. I spent hours going through and reading posts and responding. Then my Twitch account got hacked and dealing with that I copied over everything I had typed.

Argh.

Attempt #2


Essay might have been a bit of a lofty way to describe it, it was a brief excerpt from an interview. Here's what he said: "The element of suspense is giving the audience information. Now, you and I are sitting here. Suddenly a bomb goes off. Up we go, blown to smithereens. What did the audience have from watching this scene? 5 or 10 seconds of shock. Now, we do the scene over again, but we tell the audience there's a bomb underneath this table and it's going to go off in 5 minutes. Now this innocuous conversation about football becomes very potent. 'Don't talk about fooball, there's a bomb under there!' that's what they want to tell us. Then their anxieties will be as long as this clock ticks away."

Obviously he's discussing filmmaking here, where we're talking about RPGs, and specifically action resolution within RPGs. But what I think his point about information making the difference between shock and suspense is still very much applicable here. If the player (who is the audience for the RPG, excepting actual plays) doesn't know the potential consequences - or indeed, if there will even be a consequence - for their declared action, what to they get out of that? Maybe a moment of surprise, if they fail and experience an unexpected consequence. What to they get if they know the potential consequence? Well, now they have information. They know what's at stake, so the time between when the pick up the die, and when they see the result is now imbued with that tension and anxiety Hitchcock spoke of. And whether the outcome is success or failure, that releases the anticipation. If they succeed, they are relieved, if they fail, their anxiety is realized. Either way, this is the more dramatic experience, in my opinion.
Okay, he was talking about exactly what I thought he was talking about so I'm sticking by my points.

Big difference here is that the characters are also the audience. If the characters are aware of the bomb, then there are only two options remaining. Either the scene turns to absurd comedy or there must be other forces keeping them at the table.

Same thing with the players, if they know something, they must address it, which changes the nature of the drama.

A lot of the conversation later on focuses on this, and it made me curious about another point I will be adressing further down. Look for your name.



But that's not just a bit of narrative flair there, there is an actual meaningful difference between falling and the chandelier remaining up, or falling and the chandelier falling as well. If the chandelier falls, it's no longer up there for other characters to try and swing on, or to cut it and drop it on the heads of reinforcement guards that show up at the bottom, or whatever. The decision to make the chandelier fall isn't a purely aesthetic one, it has a very real impact on the players' future options.
You know, for certain character that type of analysis is perfectly fine. Heck, I do it as a player myself. But not everyone wants to play that way. Sometimes players want to be caught off guard instead of making a cost-beenfit analysis for every roll of the dice.





The description of the environment was simply that the building is decrepit.

How is "judging" whether or not the GM will decide that the chandelier in a decrepit house might fall if leapt on any different from guessing that same thing?

And if the answer is that the possiblity is implict in the situation and the player's knowledge of the GM's taste and table practices, then it no longer serves an example of the consequences not being known to the player! Which is what it was presented as (by [MENTION=6801845]Oofta[/MENTION]).
How is "guessing" different from a hypothesis? They are looking at the information they have and making a decison based off of that, judging what they think the consequences may be.

It is possible we have a difference of terminology at work here as well, I'll be mentioning your name when we get to that section. I hate having to retype everything because of that copy error, but it might end up working in my favor here.

How is it coddling the player to tell them that, on a failed check, they will bring down the chandelier? What advantage is being ceded? The player already is uncertain as to the outcome of the action, because the check is required. What additional challenge is created by keeping the player uncertain as to what the GM thinks the result of failure should be? It's just adding more guessing on top of an already uncertain resolution process. I don't see that it makes things any harder (less coddled) for the player.
"Coddling" was never my word choice, so you'll have to bring that up with the poster who said it.

I'm also not sure why you think I am worried about "ceding an advantage". I create the entire world and have all the resources in that world to work with, to the point of bending the very laws of the universe if it suits me. I have all the advantages I could ever need.

This is about style. My players want to be the characters in the game, and that means they are limited by what those characters could see or understand.




Whether or not we're asked to say whether a thing is good or bad, we're tasked as DMs by the rules of D&D 5e to judge whether a player's approach to a goal makes the task trivial or impossible and, if neither and accompanied by a meaningful consequence of failure, to call for a roll of some kind. Do we agree on that point?
For the most part, I do not agree with "needing a meaningful consequence of failure" before asking for a die roll.




I'll admit I'm perplexed why there is resistance to telling the player the consequences of failure.

If helping them making an informed decision is "coddling" then I'm all for it: I'd rather have them know the stakes, so that when they decide to roll that die they know what they're rolling for. As Charlaquin says, and supports with the Hitchcock quote, the suspense is so much more delicious when you know what that stakes are.

Now, you don't have to give away every nuance of the consequence. "Sure, you can try to chop the door down, but it's going to make a lot of noise. Are you sure...?" But they don't have to know exactly what sort of creature is going to be alerted.

And here [MENTION=6779196]Charlaquin[/MENTION] and [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] is where I want to discuss something about our word choice.

See, I don't see the point in telling my players that breaking down a door with an axe will make a lot of noise. To me, that is unnecessary because it is obvious. As obvious as telling a player that if they attempt to jump over a ravine, they might fall into said ravine. This is obvious, this is knowing how the world works.

We assume standards such as gravity and sound work the same as always, until we are given reason to suspect otherwise. To me, this is just telling the players obvious things, the only use of which is if you think they have forgotten this or forgotten they were hoping to remain quite and you are trying to signal to them that they are about to make a mistake.

To me, this is not telling them the consequences of their actions, because they are not learning anything new about the scenario. They know no more before you spoke than they did after.

So, to me, if you say you tell the player the consequences of their actions, so they can make a more informed decision and not get caught off-guard by knowledge they didn't have (ala Hitchcock) then that means to me that when they are about to jump over the pit you tell them that if they fail they will fall on the hidden spikes coated with poison in the bottom of the pit. If you are just telling them if they fail they will fall in the pit... then you are just telling them what should be obvious from the fact that they are jumping over a pit and might not succeed.

After all, knowing there are spikes and poison below is the same as knowing there is a bomb under the table, and when the players go to roll, they know exactly what the stakes are. But to me, that is revealing far more about the scenario than they have any reasonable way of knowing, without them having tested things out.

And. I want to throw this out there as well. Just because I don't tell my players the consequences for grabbing the magical orb, does not mean they cannot decide to investigate it and try and figure that information out. If my players want to be cautious and look for answers, to investigate and try and piece together clues about their surroundings, then they are more than welcome to. I won't hide things as impossible to know (unless they truly are impossible) if my players want to take the time and effort to investigate. However, I'm not going to force that mind set on them and I'm not going to assume they would be happier analysising everything. If they do not ask questions and just charge forward, then I assume their character is not asking questions and is just charging forward.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
For the most part, I do not agree with "needing a meaningful consequence of failure" before asking for a die roll.
But you do agree that the DM judges the efficacy of the approach to the goal, correct?

And you also accept, even if you do not agree, that the game tells us to call for rolls only when there's a meaningful consequence for failure?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
You know, for certain character that type of analysis is perfectly fine. Heck, I do it as a player myself. But not everyone wants to play that way. Sometimes players want to be caught off guard instead of making a cost-beenfit analysis for every roll of the dice.
Ok, two things here: first, remember that at my table “every roll of the dice” isn’t every time they take action. It’s only when they take an action that may or may not achieve their goals, and has a meaningful cost for failure. I’ll grant that if a player did not want to analyze the risk involved when there are meaningful stakes riding on their roll, my game probably wouldn’t be the best fit for them. I’m ok with that though, especially because I’ve never met a player who didn’t. I’ve certainly met players whose characters were reckless, and those players often take risks that the player of a more cautious character would not. But I’ve never had a player object to being told the DC and consequences when something meaningful was on the line.

And here @Charlaquin and @pemerton is where I want to discuss something about our word choice.

See, I don't see the point in telling my players that breaking down a door with an axe will make a lot of noise. To me, that is unnecessary because it is obvious. As obvious as telling a player that if they attempt to jump over a ravine, they might fall into said ravine. This is obvious, this is knowing how the world works.

We assume standards such as gravity and sound work the same as always, until we are given reason to suspect otherwise. To me, this is just telling the players obvious things, the only use of which is if you think they have forgotten this or forgotten they were hoping to remain quite and you are trying to signal to them that they are about to make a mistake.

To me, this is not telling them the consequences of their actions, because they are not learning anything new about the scenario. They know no more before you spoke than they did after.
I have made it explicitly clear that I am only talking about consequences it is reasonable for the character to be aware of. Yes, I would remind the player that breaking the door down will be loud and potentially alert any nearby monsters to their presence, or that failing to jump the ravine will cause them to fall in, and how far the fall would be (if they can see the bottom of course, otherwise I’d probably say “an unknown distance” or something.) It May be obvious to me, but I cannot garuntee it is obvious to the player. It probably is, but again with the life preserve analogy. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. It certainly has happened that a reminder of consequences I’ve thought were self-apparent has lead a player to think twice about an action.

So, to me, if you say you tell the player the consequences of their actions, so they can make a more informed decision and not get caught off-guard by knowledge they didn't have (ala Hitchcock) then that means to me that when they are about to jump over the pit you tell them that if they fail they will fall on the hidden spikes coated with poison in the bottom of the pit. If you are just telling them if they fail they will fall in the pit... then you are just telling them what should be obvious from the fact that they are jumping over a pit and might not succeed.

After all, knowing there are spikes and poison below is the same as knowing there is a bomb under the table, and when the players go to roll, they know exactly what the stakes are. But to me, that is revealing far more about the scenario than they have any reasonable way of knowing, without them having tested things out.
I mean, if I was going to put hidden poisoned spikes at the bottom of a pit, I’d probably telegraph that with an earlier pit where the spikes were not hidden - maybe with the mechanism that hides them visibly jammed. I want to provide players with the opportunity to pick up on clues, and use that knowledge to avoid future danger or assure future success by making smart choices based on that knowledge, not just by getting lucky rolls. I want them to fall into traps and go “Oh! I totally could have avoided that if I had noticed/remembered/thought about [whatever]!” not to just take surprise damage because they didn’t decide to roll a Perception check on this door in particular, or because they got a low roll. This is what I mean when I say, my style aims to put success and failure in the players’ hands rather than the dice’s.

So, sure, if for some reason there’s a pit containing poisoned spikes that the PCs couldn’t reasonably be aware of, no, I’m not going to tell them they’ll fall on the poison spikes they don’t know are there on a failure. But that’s also just not a scenario that’s likely to arise in my games. Again, you already have an example more Germaine to my games: “breaking the door down will alert nearby creatures to your presence,” not “the ogre on the other side of the door will hear you.”

And. I want to throw this out there as well. Just because I don't tell my players the consequences for grabbing the magical orb, does not mean they cannot decide to investigate it and try and figure that information out. If my players want to be cautious and look for answers, to investigate and try and piece together clues about their surroundings, then they are more than welcome to. I won't hide things as impossible to know (unless they truly are impossible) if my players want to take the time and effort to investigate.
I wouldn’t have assumed otherwise.

However, I'm not going to force that mind set on them and I'm not going to assume they would be happier analysising everything. If they do not ask questions and just charge forward, then I assume their character is not asking questions and is just charging forward.
Nobody’s forcing mindsets on anyone here. If my players don’t ask questions and charge forward, great, that’s the action I’ll adjudicate. If in my adjudication I determine that the action they are rushing into has a chance of success, chance of failure, and consequence, I’ll tell them what might happen if they fail, and what DC they need to beat with what Attribute to avoid that outcome. Whether they decide to follow through or reconsider is 100% up to them.
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
I know a fair bit about the context, background, and meaning of this quote, and I'll admit I'm struggling to find any relevance to the topic at hand.

(As an aside, he didn't "know he was wrong" when he said it, and the fact that hand-wavy believers in the the Copenhagen Interpretation say he was wrong doesn't make it so. In the decades since there has been a growing acknowledgement that Einstein was right. Read "What is Real" by Adam Becker for a reasonably approachable lay explanation, or keep an eye out for a book by Simon Saunders coming out this year, if you don't want to take the time to go to graduate school.)

Maybe I should pull some pithy quotes by Andrew Dice Clay and hope that they seem relevant because the word "Dice" is in there.

Anyway, nobody is arguing against using dice at all (except, perhaps, as an experiment to broaden our minds about RPGs). It's just that every action in D&D doesn't need to be resolved randomly.



You've completely overlooked the best reasons.
I've been to grad school (PhD Astrophysics, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology).

Einstein had always believed, like pretty much every other scientist of is time, in the Newtonian clockwork universe, where a single cause A always mapped to a single effect B. His own research into quantum mechanics directly contradicted that belief, by showing that a cause could lead to multiple effects, with no way to determine which - randomness was fundamental to the universe, whether you accept the Copenhagen Interpretation or not (personally, I lean towards the "many worlds" interpretation).

In recent years the rise in religious fundamentalism has lead to attempts to explain away observations and restore the clockwork universe, but that belongs with the flat earthers a climate change deniers. People tend to believe what they want to believe, and try to adjust the evidence to fit. Einstein was better than that by allowing the evidence to challenge his core beliefs.

But the bottom line is randomness is part of the universe, and outcomes are fundamentally unknowable. D&D's dice rolling is a fair way to simulate that.
 

pemerton

Legend
randomness is part of the universe, and outcomes are fundamentally unknowable. D&D's dice rolling is a fair way to simulate that.
For most people engaged in interactions of modest complexity, outcomes are quite predictable. Eg I went into a meeting today with a number of people whom I mostly don't know from outside that meeting context. I can know that a nodded greeting or "hello" to them will trigger a similar greeting in response. I knew that the sun would rise. I knew that the meeting would occur as scheduled, because I also knew - when I arrived at work and went to the meeting room - that no unusual thing had occurred to change the timetable. Etc etc.

People are rather poor knowers/predictors of society-level processes or outcomes, but almost nothing in D&D attempts to model such processes or generate such outcomes via randomisation, and so I'm not sure that that aspect of human ignorance is relevant to D&D.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I've been to grad school (PhD Astrophysics, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology).

Einstein had always believed, like pretty much every other scientist of is time, in the Newtonian clockwork universe, where a single cause A always mapped to a single effect B. His own research into quantum mechanics directly contradicted that belief, by showing that a cause could lead to multiple effects, with no way to determine which - randomness was fundamental to the universe, whether you accept the Copenhagen Interpretation or not (personally, I lean towards the "many worlds" interpretation).

In recent years the rise in religious fundamentalism has lead to attempts to explain away observations and restore the clockwork universe, but that belongs with the flat earthers a climate change deniers. People tend to believe what they want to believe, and try to adjust the evidence to fit. Einstein was better than that by allowing the evidence to challenge his core beliefs.

But the bottom line is randomness is part of the universe, and outcomes are fundamentally unknowable. D&D's dice rolling is a fair way to simulate that.
There’sa reason the Newtonian model was so broadly accepted for so long. The probabilistic behavior of quantum particles is not generally noticeable in our everyday experience, outside of experiments specifically designed to demonstrate it, and even those experiments have predictable results. So unless you’re roleplaying as a photon, no, dice aren’t an accurate way to represent physics in the real world. Which is perfectly ok, because it’s a roleplaying game, not a quantum physics simulator.
 

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